One common dilemma for homeowners doing their own remodeling project is choosing among the many main flooring options. To be specific, picking between laminate and hardwood.
Many people who choose hardwood would argue that laminate is only the inferior version between the two. On the other hand, those who go for laminate would say that hardwood is expensive. Either way, it can’t be disregarded how both of the two options have their own advantages.
So if you are in between your installation process but still can’t choose between the two, then you are just in the right place. We have written down a guide below that will help you distinguish the differences between laminate and hardwood floors. Continue below:
What are Laminate Flooring and Hardwood Flooring?
Before we proceed with their differences, let us first define and show the basics between laminate flooring and hardwood flooring.
Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product. It is made to resemble/imitate the appearance of real wood. Laminate flooring’s core layer is manufactured primarily from melamine resin and fiberboard material. Its top layer has an imprinted textured image that is made to appear like real wood.
Contrastingly, hardwood flooring is the legit and original version of laminate. It is produced from single pieces of wood and can either be purchased finished or prefinished. However, there is also engineered hardwood flooring that is made available now. It is a type of wood floor that consists of several wood or plywood layers. The bottom and middle layers are manufactured from cross-laid solid wood or plywood planks; while the top layer is made up of solid sawn wood lamella, which is often stained and prefinished in a factory setting.
Differences Between Laminate Flooring and Hardwood Flooring
While both differ in the kind of authenticity they take, there are still some factors that consumers must look beyond their nature. Here are six factors that will show:
The price should be an important factor for homeowners when choosing. You must constantly remember to take what you can afford but also, minding the quality.
Since laminate flooring is just an imitation of hardwood, you can expect a much lower price compared to it. For decent quality laminate, you can purchase it from about $3 per square foot and above. Thinner laminate versions cost less than that, but it can be at the cost of poorer appearance.
Furthermore, laminate flooring also cost much cheaper when it comes to installation compared to hardwood. To be exact, it could reach up to 50% less.
On the more expensive side is the hardwood flooring. This is still depending on the kind or how exotic the trees are. Stronger wood costs more. Exotic woods cost more than domestic woods. It is also expensive to install . With hardwood flooring, you will also have to spend more with the added finish, treat, and wax.
There are a number of things that can influence the durability of the kind of flooring options you choose. One of that is the intensity of foot traffic as well as how much you adhere or follow the manufacturer’s recommendations in terms of care and maintenance to the floor.
For the durability of laminate flooring, you can expect a maximum of use up to 10 years; for high-quality laminate products, it could even reach up to 25 years. Laminate is made from pressed wood. This makes for a more durable flooring type that is resistant to scratches, moisture, and wear and tear; making it ideal for a busy home. It is also much easier to clean. While it is highly resistant to moisture damage, staining, and fading, you must still not rely too much and carelessly toss around these things, as it could be a factor in the floorings’ shorter lifespan.
Hardwood flooring, on the other hand, could last a lifetime and even more. However, its durability still highly depends on the finish, manufacturer, and maintenance practices. And since it is comparatively softer than a pressurized composite surface, hardwood flooring could easily dent. It is susceptible to scratching and wears, most especially in high traffic areas. And it could be damaged from excessive moisture.
Fortunately, for solid and engineered hardwood floors, you can count on being able to remedy it as it can be refinished, renewed, and repaired fairly easily. Often, you won’t need to replace the planks or even the entire floor since the affected area can be easily sanded down.
At some point in time, you will have to get down on your knees and repair your flooring options. And when this happens, we want to make sure that it won’t take too much effort on our part.
Laminate flooring cannot be easily repaired, unfortunately. It cannot be sanded or refinished. For those that are installed by snapping individual pieces and snaps together like floating laminate flooring, you can just remove the damaged planks and replace them. The problem with this is that it may not properly match the rest of the floor due to the differences in sunlight exposure, age, and wear level.
However, for maintenance, laminate flooring can be mopped with water and generally don’t need anything special for a cleaning solution. If you want to avoid having to repair or replace them, keeping the floor well maintained and clean will maximize their life.
Compared to laminate flooring, hardwood flooring is significantly easier to repair. You can just easily sand out the imperfections and refinish. You can do this many times and it will still last long. Furthermore, you won’t need to remove or replace the entire set of planks when they do get damaged. You can just take the affected plank or sand out the area where it is needed. You can even stain and refinish.
On the other hand, you have to be wary of exposing it too much from the sunlight since it could fade, as hardwood is a natural product. It must also be noted that refinishing floors do not come cheap.
The materials used by laminate and hardwood factor greatly on the quality of the flooring options. It also dictates how durable it is, how it will look, and how it should maintain, among others.
Laminate flooring is made of thin fiberboard that is topped with an image of wood or stone and is then covered with a transparent wear layer. It is even made from recycled materials. The process includes pressing together composite wood at high temperatures. An image of hardwood is then placed over the composite wood, covering it to make a laminate. The positive part of this is that it takes some waste out of landfills. The current recycling technology makes 85% of laminate floors recyclable. However, it must be noted that laminate still contains synthetic floor material like melamine and formaldehyde in the top layer. So it is not wholly good for the environment.
As expected, hardwood flooring is made from 100% wood. That only goes for solid hardwood, however. The engineered wood still has a plywood base. Nevertheless, hardwoods are made from organic materials making them biodegradable. It is one of the few flooring choices that are environmentally friendly.
For homeowners thinking of selling their house, choosing the right kind of flooring could greatly help in increasing the resale value.
Unfortunately, those who choose laminate flooring won’t get much of an increase in their resale value should they sell their home or property. But if you really want a difference, make sure that you have the premium type of laminate flooring since it could have some moderate resale value attached to it. Furthermore, you must take note that many flooring warranties are transferable from owner to owner.
For those who picked hardwood flooring, then you are in luck since hardwood floor has a better resale value than laminate; most especially if it is well-maintained. The same goes with the rule of less. If your hardwood floor is less desirable like red oak, then you should expect to have lower resale value than those premium laminates. Still, you should take delight in the information from the National Wood Flooring Association in which they indicate that U.S. real estate agents believe that houses with hardwood flooring:
- Sell much easier
- Sell for more money
- Sell faster
Appearance and Aesthetics:
Now let us move on to the last part and, undeniably, one of the factors most homeowners tend to take into consideration more frequently: the appearance and aesthetics.
Laminate flooring is an imitation of hardwood floor with its pre-designed wood texture pattern imprinted onto the floor surface. Therefore, it can’t fully capture the appearance and aesthetic of the original as well as its uniqueness. So do expect that in every five boards, you can see some flooring with identical patterns.
But don’t be discouraged, however, because, with some high-quality laminate flooring, you can achieve a seemingly real wood. It could even look exactly as real wood from a distance. Also, higher quality laminates have fewer tendencies in the frequency of pattern repetition.
Furthermore, take note that as technological developments continue to improve, you can expect a surging of synthetic materials that will soon even look better. For this reason, modern laminate floors could look even closer to hardwood compared to past versions of laminate flooring. And if you are looking for a type of wood appearance, then you can be assured that you’ll find it with the number of imitation possibilities offered around now.
It is a no-brainer how hardwood flooring reigns among other flooring choices in appearance and aesthetics. Hardwood flooring marries together an elegant and timeless look. Furthermore, real wood is characterized by tremendous texture variation of the wood grain. For this reason, there are no two planks that look alike with hardwood flooring—be it solid hardwood or engineered hardwood.
Hardwood has a timeless appeal with its unique organic grains, unexpected knots, and natural texture that could be hard for laminate floors to imitate fully. They could also take on different stains, finishes, and could be coated with wax for that added shine. However, you must take note that this beauty is very sensitive, which is that it is easily prone to scratches. So make sure to maintain it well.
To recap, here are some of the points raised above.
Price: Inexpensive and comparatively cheaper to install than hardwood.
Durability: Limited lifespan but recommended for high traffic areas.
Repair: Cannot be easily repaired yet relatively easy to maintain and clean.
Materials Used: A combination of recycled and synthetic materials.
Resale Value: Low to Moderate resale value than hardwood.
Appearance and Aesthetics: Could tend to look more of an imitation yet with high quality, modern, and premium, you could get an exact replica.
Price: Expensive both as a material and in installation.
Durability: Could last a lifetime but easily dents. However, it can be remedied easily by sanding, refinishing, and waxing.
Repair: Much easier to repair than laminate flooring.
Materials Used: 100% organic for solid hardwood as it is made from real and pure wood.
Resale Value: Higher resale value and is much preferred by real estate agents since it easily sells.
Appearance and Aesthetics: Timeless, original, classic, and elegant appearance and aesthetic. It is unique that there are no two hardwood planks could ever look alike.
At the end of the day, while these factors greatly contribute to your choices, you must not disregard other personal factors. Assess what kind of home environment you have. Is it high in traffic or not? Also, know your own personal style so that you can decide the right one that best suits you.